Last-minute gifts

It’s okay. You can admit you’re a procrastinator. Just don’t feel like you need to settle for a second-rate gift under pressure.

When I was in my 20s, I loved heading to the mall on Christmas Eve to do all my shopping. The stores were calm, I could buzz through in no time, and there was always a camaraderie among my fellow late-birds. I work well under pressure and felt I did my best gift-buying like this.

Flash forward 25 years: Now I mostly pre-order everything online to ensure my kids get the items they want before they sell out. And, of course, more adult things now take precedence on Christmas Eve, like preparing food for a feast of 15.

Nevertheless, there are times when I’m headed to a Boy Scout party or cookie swap and need to pick up a gift en route because life got in the way of my planning that week. In that case, or when online options simply can’t deliver in time, we’re forced to kick it old-school and hit the pavement.

If it’s not too late and you can find a mom-and-pop still open, shopping local is a great way to purchase one-of-a-kind gifts. Think handmade ornaments, personalized trinkets and themed gifts that can tap into someone’s personality, such as a baseball wine stopper for the sports fan.

Though you may not think of them as a source for gifts beyond flowers, supermarkets are stepping up their game these days. Whole Foods has a great selection of decorative candles, soaps, jewelry and toys. It even sells scarves and sweaters for women.

Drugstores are another great choice. In addition to beauty items and fragrances, Walgreens showcases an inexpensive selection of Secret Santa gifts and Sharper Image gadgets. CVS is stocked with toy cars, plush animals, and an interesting array of As Seen on TV items.

If you’re really in a rush, don’t be embarrassed to make a pit-stop into a convenience store, such as 7-Eleven. It’s always good for toys for the kids, a political gag gift and candy to stuff in stockings.

Whether you’re buying something a month in advance or just minutes before the party, remember the most important thing is to reflect on for whom you’re buying. With a little thought and consideration, they’ll never know the difference.

This week’s pick:

  It’s never fun looking for your keys when you’re in a rush to get somewhere. The Sharper Image Auto Key Finder can help. The wireless transmitter has a 45-foot reach to help locate your keys, or anything else you want to clip the fobs onto. Just listen for the beep as you activate the remote. Batteries are required, but you can pick them up at Walgreens stores, too. $14.99

Everyday picks:

For him: Being a suit doesn’t have to be stuffy. Soccer fans can show off their love of the game with a pair of Paul Smith Football Cuff Links. These polished silver accessories have colored enamel touches to add an extra bit of flair. $49.98

For her: Buying jewelry for women isn’t always easy. Hedge your bets with this three-bar cuff from South Moon Under. Its airy, delicate design in hammered gold is also bold enough to make a statement, making it a versatile choice that can morph from day to night. $28

For kids: If you’re a sucker for rescue animals, Scruff-a-Luvs will tug at your heartstrings. The plush “abandoned pets” come as a matted ball of fur and need your help to fix them up. Give them a bath, brush them, and then you’ll finally see if you’ve got a bunny, puppy or kitty. An adoption certificate comes with each pet. $14.99

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